COVID-19 global pandemic has slowed down the global economics – many companies were forced to stop the production, dismiss employees or even completely shut down because of supply chain disruption, low customers‘ demand and mandatory quarantine of employees.

Except of these unplanned, emergency shutdowns and various lapses, regular planned maintenance or company-wide holiday shutdowns are part of the production processes. Employees, responsible for regular maintenance of machines and production lines were physically available for service work during planned shutdowns.

However, current pandemic situation forced even maintenance workers to stay at home and therefore become unavailable for service tasks in some cases. Maintenance oversight can be missing when needed for that reason.

The impact on production and supply chain because of all what is happening around us is significant recently, as companies‘ priorities changed radically. Financial flows were prominently influenced, resulting into growing pressure in order to digital transformation, processes optimization, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Therefore we see an inevitability to digitalize and implement industry 4.0 technologies.

The most of us have already heard at least something about IoT, smart factories, industry 4.0 etc. How exactly is possible to achieve the status, where the system of machines, devices and production infrastructure deserves to be named smart?

Data collection

In a common factory there are usually several departments where various processes are running, managed either manually or via software system.

Build-in diagnostic tools for monitoring status, activity or components‘ wear are nowadays a standard feature of modern industry devices. Unfortunately, the most of producers develop their unique software and specific communication protocols, usually able to communicate within the same product family only.

KM Technology team develops completely independent solutions, fully compatible with common industry protocols and tailored to specific customer’s needs.

Our IT system is fully capable to harvest, process and visualize data from various production lines, robots and PLCs in simple, transparent visualizations.

If industrial devices are not equipped with diagnostic and monitoring features, we deploy wireless IoT sensors into selected places. Thanks to that we can monitor and measure desired physical quantities in specific location. IoT devices communicate via suitable type of the wireless network (LoRa WAN, NB-IoT), able to operate in range of several kms in open space.

Let’s get back to maintenance, where the saying goes – what does move, can go wrong.

Predictive maintenance

The hybrid vibration/temperature sensor is the one mostly used for maintenance purposes. This sensor monitors an engine vibrations as well as engine casing temperature. Our customers use them at critical locations, e.g. important engines and robots of production lines, or at hardly reachable places, e.g. air conditioning engines and ventilation chimneys above furnaces. We can register moving parts wear (e.g. bearings) well in advance and notify maintenance workers to perform necessary tasks. Thanks to that the unplanned shutdown because of device malfunction can be avoided.

In addition to vibration and temperature monitoring, other measurements are important as well, e.g. humidity, gas concentration, pH of environment etc.

How is all of that related to the maintenance management?

Thanks to continuous devices, machinery and environment monitoring we can lower the risk of malfunctions and unplanned shutdowns. Therefore, maintenance service is able to plan its tasks effectively during standard operation conditions, lower costs and reduce the risk of spreading contagious diseases (e.g. Covid-19) among employees.